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Why it’s Almost Impossible to Implement a Service Culture Plan

I have been talking and writing about customer service longer than anyone else in the world, letting both large and small companies know that it’s fiercely competitive out there and the only way to compete and win is with superior customer service. It will help you retain customers, build market share and improve worker performance. I, for one, am relentless in this.  I work on it daily

For 40 years I have said the major reason organizations are not customer driven is because top management has no grasp of the financial impact and the impact it has on employee performance. They are not relentless.

CEO’s like to delegate customer service to HR, Human Resources. This is the kiss of death. The vast majority of all HR leaders have no grasp of strategy. If the company increases market share and sales for them it is just more work and no increased compensation. About the only time I have seen HR drive the service strategy is when the CEO demands it now.  Most HR will then work to kill the project.

Service leaders like Metro Bank, Amazon, Mayo Clinic, Costco, Southwest Airlines and Apple do not delegate this to HR. It is a strategy that is, or should be, the vision of the CEO and they relentlessly pursue it.

Another problem is most CEO’s are not relentless. This is a 1 or 2 year project.  What is worse is many firms who have a service culture when the CEO retires delegate it to a Financial CEO like Michael Dell at Dell did with Kevin Rollins and Sam Walton and David Glass at Walmart did with Lee Scott. They put blinders on and dealt with numbers only, no thought to strategy and customer service.  Not even paying any attention to the fact that it is very difficult to recover the service brand. Good example of that is the $1000 I invested in Dell in May 20013 is worth $475 and at Walmart $2323, and this is after 15 years.

Vernon Hill, Founder & CEO of Metro Bank London said it “starts with a thousand cuts.” It is very difficult for the Board to buy into the Service Strategy. The United States bank he founded in 1973, Commerce Bank, was sold to TD Bank in 2007. Today it has little resemblance to the customer service culture it was built on.  You used to be able to call 888-751-9000 and a live person answered the call in 1-2 rings. Today it requires an IVR system.  The hours are no longer the same and inconvenience the consumer. It’s so much worse and has little evidence of improving.

I think Internal Politics destroys the focus on customer service. There is so much infighting. Everyone wants to fight for their own petty issues. It just becomes too much work. NO one wants to take responsibility. Unless the CEO is relentless it will die. If a Financial person is put in as CEO it will die. They just do not understand the power of the service strategy.

In order to create a service culture the CEO needs to be relentless. Needs to drive this as a strategy and needs to develop a management team that understands this culture. They need to focus on keeping customers, building market share and improving the performance of the entire work force by developing a culture of delivering superior customer service.

We are relentless:

For 40 years we have been helped companies succeed.

 

For 40 years, over 1 million people trained using our system.

 

For 40 years we have tailored programs for motivating frontline employees.

 

For 40 years we have helped companies save money and watch their profits grow with great customer service.

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